Who were David Koresh and the Branch Davidians?: Part 1

Former followers describe their first impressions of Koresh and what restrictions he put on their lives once he took over the apocalyptic religious sect.
9:33 | 01/05/18

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Transcript for Who were David Koresh and the Branch Davidians?: Part 1
I know where I came from. I come from god. I didn't come from monkey. I came from god, through Adam, through a long lineage of man. Did Jesus look like the son of god? No one thought so, except a few people in his day. David Koresh was an monster. He was a highly unstable self-proclaimed messiah who used the do I believe and scriptures as a weapon. It's a war. These governments of this world are com to an end. He always said they would come for us. And we were going to defend ourselves. And we were all going to die. He was the embodiment of evil. He was the complete absolute dictator of every facet of everyone's life. I'm learning the truth. Do you think he's the son of god? Yes. He had uncommonly powerful capacities to manipulate people and instantaneously decay souls. When I first met David Koresh in the summer of '81, he had a car that he was driving and he said the lord gave it to him. He was a very disheveled kind of guy. He was poor, obviously. He didn't have a job or at least a regular job. He seemed lost, looking for something, and he was kind of a drifter. He had been born Vernon Howell. His mother was very young when he was born, 15. He had a very troublesome childhood. His mother had been married three times. He wasn't particularly the best student in school. He had some learning disabilities. He was a very cute lovable little boy. Very inquisitive, a doer. He learned by doing things, tearing motors apart. First truck I bought him, first thing he did was tear the motor out. And that's the way he did the bible. He searched through and dissected like he did a motor or whatever. By the age of 14, he had memorized the new testament. And, uh, by the age of approximately 18, he had the old testament memorized. His mastery of the bible stunned everyone. He claimed that when he was a child, god had spoken to him and said, you're the chosen one. You are my messiah. I think back then god was working on David to prepare him for the work he had for him later on. Bonnie was a very, very charming woman. She's very likable. She took some blame for the way that he was brought up and the fact that she was in a couple abusive relationships. But I think that somewhere inside of her, she was proud of the fact that he made something of himself. Even if it was infamous, he made something out of himself. ??? ??? darkness to light ??? Back in the '70s, that's when all the guys want to be rock stars. ??? yeah, I thought he had ability. I really did. As he got older, he wanted not to be a rock star, but to, um, do the kind of music that would bring them to Christ. This is the psalms 45 guitar. A lot of people think it's kind of sensual. But no more sensual than the psalm of Solomon. At this point in his life, he's like believing that god is speaking to him. And that led to him finding the branch Davidian group. The branch davidians are an offshoot of the 7th day adventist church. This thing that made them different was they believed in the boomsday prophesy. They believed when that day came, they were going to die. One of the things being a branch Davidian is you're supposed to separate yourself from the world. The world is the sins of the flesh and you're supposed to be spiritual. There was no running water, no heat, no electricity of any kind. We had to go to bible study three times a day. Women had to wear long blouses covering their rear ends. And no makeup, ever. No jewelry. Why did you come here? Because I heard there was something here that I wanted to listen to. David can explain this bible better than ini have ever met. I'm here because of the truth. What is the truth? You have to find out yourself. She was a socialite from Hong Kong. Before they joined the branch davidians they'd a variety of lives. They came from all walks of life. My mom, she was very glamorous. Going out and lived the high life, I guess. Then after she joined with Vernon she just sort of let go. Is he the son of god? I hope he is. I could see that there was a struggle. She wanted to believe, but I knew she wasn't really sure. She was poll rising. He told them where to sleep, who to sleep with, what to work, what not to do. He's the lord of the manor in every sense of the word. He had absolute -- absolute authority over the air they breathed, over the food they ate, literally, every day. He taught that we should not eat any dairy products. And his reasoning was milk is what you drink when you're a baby, and we're adults now. You could have apples and bananas, but not bananas and Oranges together. There was a lot of food combining rules. I couldn't eat fruit and vegetables together. No sugar at all. No processed flour. In the very beginning we would have pots of onion soup. No cheese in it. Just onion soup. My wife got in trouble for telling someone it was okay to eat cheese and she was put out of the camp. It was almost like he was sitting around thinking of really what canky ways to treat people. But the idea was to test people to see if they would owe bay when the time came. You will overcome. You are mine. We knew it was a cult. We would joke about it all the time, like, yep, we are cult members. But then again, David would talk about christianity is a cult. Christ had five guys following him around. What's the difference between religion and a cult in the United States? It's a joke. About 100 years. The mormons started out as a cult. Everything was a rule. More like prison. And if you broke a rule, there were consequences. He even spanked some of the adults. He became all powerful in a way. And people were willing to give them their children. He beat them quite severely. We began disciplining our children at 8 months of age. We can't have time to argue with the kids. If we told them to drop, they were going drop. What I remember as a kid being disciplined was like a 24/7 thing. There's nothing that you could do right, is how I felt as a kid. That fear that nothing you can do is going to be good enough. You're raised with just fear. Everywhere is fear. If there was one thing I could take back, I would take back the spankings. I drew blood. There was blood on the paddle. I felt like the most evil person in the world to be beating my baby this way. But this was what good wanted and needed from me. They were willing to follow him, willing to follow him to the point of death. There's no doubt in my mind that he heard a voice in his head and he believed it was god. Did it make him dangerous? Yes. He had god-like control. Tens of millions of people have switched

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